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Ohio Primary Day opens with voting problems in Cuyahoga, Lucas counties

Cuyahoga County e-poll book
Anna Bauman
Ideastream Public Media
Electronic poll books in Cuyahoga County were not automatically recording ballot stub numbers when the polls first opened at 6:30am. The problem, which did not affect ballot scanning machines, was corrected within a couple of hours.

In-person voting is underway in Ohio's 88 counties, as Democrats and Republicans pick their candidates for the general election. Today's primary includes races for the U.S. Senate, Governor and Lt. Governor, Attorney General, Secretary of State, Auditor, Treasurer and several Ohio Supreme Court seats. There are also local races and questions on the primary ballot.

Voting got underway this morning with some technical issues in Cuyahoga County. According to the county Board of Elections, the electronic poll books that are used to scan and record ballot stub numbers were not automatically recording the stub numbers for the ballots. Poll workers entered the stub numbers manually or recorded the stub numbers on back-up paper poll books. The Board of Elections said the issue did not at any time affect the ability of voters to cast ballots.

Jeanne Gordon voted in Cleveland Heights this morning. She said the confusion did make her a little concerned about whether or not her vote would be counted properly.

"By the time I'd got there, they had kind of figured it out. But it was confusing. They were stressed. It took a significantly longer time than it should," Gordon said.

Meanwhile, voter Michael Herschman said he didn't seem to mind the second trip to polling place after the board of elections said the issues were quickly resolved.

"I'm like, you know what, I'll go back to work and then literally just got back from there about 20 minutes ago and it was smooth sailing. Not a problem," Herschman said.

If anyone was unable to vote as a result of the problem, the Board of Elections asks them to return before the polls close at 7:30pm to cast their ballot.

Lucas County mixup
In Lucas County, WTOL-TV in Toledo was reporting polling locations were having issues with voting machines earlier this morning. GOP voters were only seeing Democrat candidates on their ballot, and Democrat voters were only seeing GOP candidates. The Lucas County Board of Elections released a statement on Twitter blaming a vendor error that resulted in the printing of incorrect barcodes on ballot cards. The board said that poll workers were made aware of the issue and followed correct backup procedures.

The Board of Elections tweeted at 2pm that the vendor error had been corrected and that back procedures had correctly recorded that votest that had been cast.

Voter turnout
Voters at the Nordonia Hills Branch Library didn’t seem to have any difficulties voting this afternoon, but Mark Smith from Northfied Center said he was surprised with how few people he saw at the polling place.

“I don’t know I expected it to be packed. I really did, but what are you gonna do?”

Poll workers at the Tremont Montessori School polling location in Cleveland's Tremont Neighborhood estimated fewer than 200 voters showed up as of 6:00pm. Tom Tosuksri was one of them.

"I was hoping more people would feel more energized to vote after hearing what happened from the Supreme Court last night and more officially this morning, just to get out the vote. I'm guessing maybe there's not excitement for candidates," Tosuksri said.

Toruksri was referring to is the leaked Supreme Court draft of a decision that would overturn Roe V. Wade.

Fellow Tremont Montessori voter Julie Goulis also thought that would encourage more people to vote in the primary.

"What they're trying to do, this isn't the end of it. I definitely was an angry voter today," Goulis said.

What comes next
This is the first of two primaries Ohio will be holding this year. The state will have a separate primary for Ohio House and Senate seats later this year due to delays in adopting new maps approved by the Ohio Redistricting Commission repeatedly ruled unconstitutional by the Ohio Supreme Court.

Updated: May 3, 2022 at 6:48 PM EDT
This story has been updated to include information on voter turnout in parts of Summit and Cuyahoga county.
Updated: May 3, 2022 at 3:04 PM EDT
This story was updated at 3:04pm to add comments from voters in Cleveland Heights and new info about voting issues in Lucas County.
Andrew Meyer is the deputy editor of news at Ideastream Public Media.
Gabriel Kramer is a reporter/producer and the host of “NewsDepth,” Ideastream Public Media's news show for kids.